Faster vs Slower Walkers: Who Wins?

Man crossing the street
Christian Clark

‘These boots are made for walking’. But how fast do they go? Are they designed to get stuck behind painfully slow walkers? Do they allow you to take in your surroundings, or are you in too much of a rush to notice them? To put it simply, most of us walk places and, at some point in your life, you’ve probably wondered about the advantages and disadvantages of walking fast or slow (or if you haven’t, there’s some good news for you). Christian Clark discusses. 

There’s those who prefer to amble along slowly, savouring the sensation of exercise, the fragile notion of life we experience daily, the journey as opposed to the destination. Why walk fast when you can treasure your surroundings?

On the flip side of the coin, there’s those so desperate to not lose any time that they perhaps rarely consider their journeys, rarely look to the plethora of natural life around them. But then again, those people save (if you’d call it that) a heck of a long time.

The faster walker saves 14 minutes per day

Let’s assume that the average person walks 5,000 steps a day, which is between 2.2 miles and 2.55 miles, depending on speed (let’s average 2.4 miles). And let’s say a slow walk is 2.7mph, and a fast one is 4mph. That means it would take around 50 minutes to cover this distance. For a faster walker, it would take 36 minutes. That means, speaking in averages, the faster walker saves 14 minutes per day based on walking speed.

Now, let’s broaden this statistic. You may be a university student, so how much time would this amount to in your years spent studying? If the faster walker saves 14 minutes per day, that means they save 98 minutes a week. And 392 a month. And 4,704 minutes per year. That’s 78.4 hours and 3.2 days. On the average 3-year course that’s 9.8 days. 10 extra days. It’s hard to argue with the magnitude of this number: how much more studying could be done, hobbies enjoyed, errands run?

But there’s two sides to this story, as there often is. Speedy walkers may save a heck of a long time, but do they get as much from the journey as their slower counterparts? The answer would probably be no. And if you were to ask a slower walker if they wished they could walk faster, they’d probably say no, too.

To all the fast walkers out there, – myself included – try taking a walk at a slower pace once in a while. Maybe go outside without a destination in mind. Call it walking meditation or something (check out Goodful’s ‘15-Minute Walking Meditation’ – I recommend).

We’re often raised to think of journeys as only concerned with their end: the quickest way, the most efficient way. But there’s a lot to be said for taking a moment to just walk leisurely. Take in the cold air, the beauty of acknowledging the space around you, noticing things you might not notice speeding by at 4mph. At the end of the day, some of us walk fast, some of us walk slow. That’s how it is. There isn’t too much we can do about it. As annoying as those slow walkers you’re jammed behind are, or that person who overtakes you daily is, it’s hard to ignore the advantages of both. No winners here.

Christian Clark

Featured image courtesy of Arturo Castaneyra via Unsplash Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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